How It Worked When Our Family Got the COVID-19 Vaccine

COVID Vaccine Spotter

I recently shared some of the “Why” behind my decision to get the COVID-19 Vaccine. I still have doubts that sharing about my process will be persuasive for anyone. Nevertheless, I figured I might as well follow up with some of the “How” our family went about things, in case it might be helpful to others. The logistics of it all are fascinating.

COVID-19 Vaccine Registration

The State of Ohio determined that Marci and I were eligible for the vaccine starting March 19th. So that morning, I spent about three hours at the desktop computer in our home office, learning the system and booking our appointments. The website for the Ohio Department of Health has a wealth of information, but it doesn’t actually help to schedule any vaccination appointments. It just lists the providers and their contact information. That’s why it took awhile to find a site for each of us to receive our shots. I personally found the Vaccine Spotter website to be the most helpful in my search. Their listing of available supplies and appointments appeared more accurate than others. So it helped to narrow down the list of providers, each of whom have their own system.

I ended up booking one appointment for Marci at a CVS Drug Store in Mansfield, Ohio. And I booked one appointment for myself at a Giant Eagle Supermarket in Solon, Ohio. March 24th and March 26th, respectively. So five days and six days out from the date we became eligible. And we felt pretty fortunate with those outcomes.

Elliot and Olivia became eligible for the vaccine starting March 29th. But since they had confirmed cases of COVID in mid-March, we consulted with medical experts who advised us to wait to start their vaccination process in mid-April. So just this week, I helped Elliot use the aforementioned online tools to find and book an appointment at the Walmart here in Kent. But it was so much easier just three weeks after booking the appointments for Marci and me! He got an appointment at a time and date that was convenient for him. And the whole process took perhaps five minutes.

Olivia wanted to find a weekend appointment, which proved to be more challenging — at least with the Vaccine Spotter website (it points to more supermarkets and drug stores which seem to prefer weekday vaccinations). I spent about thirty minutes trying to find something and then gave up. But reading yesterday’s newspaper, I learned that there was a drive-in mass vaccination site in Akron that still had openings. So I called the number listed in the paper and got her scheduled for same-day service within ten minutes.

COVID-19 Vaccination

Marci got her shots at the CVS Drug Store in Mansfield. It was a bit of a drive (about an hour and a half), back to our home county. But once she got there, the process went extremely quickly and smoothly. Even with the 15-minute waiting period to make sure there are no allergic reactions to the injection, she was in and out in less than thirty minutes. The process was identical for both shots. And she got a “Vaccinated for COVID-19” sticker each time (which I thought was kind of cool).

I got my shots at the Giant Eagle Supermarket in Solon. It took me about thirty minutes to drive there. But like Marci, the actual process of getting the vaccine went very quickly and smoothly. There were maybe 75 people going through the process at the same time as me, but the only waiting I really had to do was that 15-minute check for allergic reactions. No stickers at that Giant Eagle in Solon, though.

Olivia got to experience the drive-in mass vaccination approach to vaccination, and it also felt astonishingly efficient. We drove through four different stations where we (1) Received instructions and an information packet, (2) Filled out paperwork and verified Olivia’s identity, (3) Received the shot while sitting in the car, and (4) Waited 15 minutes to check for adverse reactions.

Elliot hasn’t gotten his first shot yet, so I can’t report on Walmart’s systems. But it seems like most medical providers have figured out their procedures. The agonizing hours of refreshing an web browser to find an appointment and the long lines waiting for a shot seem to be things of the past. At least in our area.

COVID-19 Vaccine Recuperation

Everyone in our household is getting the Pfizer-BioNTech two-stage vaccine. We’re just slightly past the half-way point (five out of eight total shots), so we can’t speak with certainty or authority. But it doesn’t seem like any of us are having too much difficulty with our immune system responses to the vaccines.

Marci had no side effects of any kind with her first shot. She felt some fatigue and a nagging headache after her second shot. Her most significant and most prolonged symptom after the second shot was swollen lymph nodes under her arm. The swelling seems to finally be dissipating now, on the fourth day after her second shot.

I honestly don’t know if I had any side effects after my first shot. None of the classic headache, fever, or achiness, at least. I did, however, have some skin issues in the week following my first shot. Maybe related; maybe unrelated. The left side of my neck and my left ear felt sun-burned (warm to the touch, reddened, dry, itchy and flaky later on). A few spots on my hands and forearm felt seemed like they were having a reaction to poison ivy (small blisters, itchy). So maybe I just so happened to get sun-burned and a case of poison ivy in the same week that I got the shot. Or maybe they were some uncommon reactions to the shot. Either way, even if those were side effects from the COVID-19 vaccine, they all cleared up within a week.

My second shot followed the “standard script.” About six hours after the shot, I started to feel a headache creeping in. Eight hours after the shot, I felt zapped of all energy. In bed that night, I felt feverish and achy. And throughout the next day, I felt perhaps 85% healthy. Not full strength; but also not disabled. The worst symptom was a headache that I’d rate a 3 on a 1-10 pain scale. About 30 hours after the second shot, I felt fully back to normal.

Olivia is still just 20 hours into her recuperation process, following her first dose, but so far she says she’s feeling totally normal. We had feared there might be stronger immune responses from Olivia and Elliot, since they had confirmed cases of COVID-19. They’d both heard horror stories from friends. Allegedly, those who’d gotten the sickness and then the vaccine felt pretty awful for a pretty long time (like three days). Especially after their first shot. Fortunately, that has not (yet) been the case with Olivia. And we’re hoping that Elliot’s experience might match his sister’s.

COVID-19 Vaccine Conclusion

So far, so good. Our household’s experience with vaccination has not been completely painless, but it also seems like a small price to pay for some of the peace of mind and freedom that we’ll experience moving forward. I hope that others will come to similar conclusions, so that we can all start to move past this pandemic. If you have any questions or need help with any steps in the process, feel free to reach out. We’re glad to help!

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